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What AI Can’t Do for Your Brand: Human Guidance and Your Reputation
02.03.21 | Ken Barbieri, EVP, Growth, Code3

It’s no surprise that Artificial intelligence (AI) has made a major impact in marketing.

From analytics and campaign creation to scheduling and programmatic advertising, AI is fueling an industry boom. Marketers are increasingly able to leverage resources previously only accessible to the largest enterprises.

Now, businesses across the spectrum are using AI to reduce marketing spend while boosting returns. But there is a limit to the utility of AI, and marketers who cross that threshold risk inadvertently hurting your brand.

Artificial intelligence is a powerful tool for automated decision-making and data analysis. It isn’t a catch-all technology for replacing human ingenuity and understanding. Marketers who understand how AI works are better-positioned to compensate for its shortcomings.

3 Shortcomings Today’s Most Advanced AI Systems Share

AI-driven technologies are simply inspired by the way the human brain works. That doesn’t mean they have the ability to think, reason, or meaningfully communicate. These are the skills today’s marketing professionals need to focus on to make the most of tomorrow’s technological landscape.

While AI-driven technology is useful in a wide range of applications, it falls short in three major respects:

1. Lack of Semantic Understanding

Even the most complex AI-powered natural language engine fails to grasp simple cause-and-effect. Natural language processors like GPT-3 work by guessing what the next word in any string of words is likely to be

By drawing comparisons using billions of parameters, these engines can create convincing texts. But they don’t “understand” the things they say.

This places severe limitations on the capabilities of AI-powered chatbots and marketing outreach tools. A good chatbot can help qualify a website visitor as a lead, but it cannot meaningfully interpret a visitor’s problem and offer a solution – that still requires human intervention.

2. Harmful Embedded Biases

Since natural language processors use billions of parameters to create content, it’s reasonable to ask where those parameters come from. GPT-3 draws on the public Internet to create text, including Wikipedia pages, Reddit threads, and much more.

It should come as no surprise that GPT-3 has a disturbing tendency to sexualize women, correlate Islam with terrorism, and associate negative language with racial terms. Without human oversight, your AI-powered marketing tools may end up alienating people or stoking an already tense social landscape.

These biases aren’t limited to text. The PULSE algorithm, which transforms pixelated images into high-resolution portraits, famously turned Barack Obama into a white man. AI-powered financial underwriting systems have denied credit to people based on their race, gender, and marital status. A hiring firm’s Artificial Intelligence algorithm ignored resumes from candidates who attended women’s colleges.

There is no way for data scientists to adequately curate the data these systems use to make decisions. If there are harmful biases embedded in the data, there will be harmful biases expressed in the AI’s output.

3. Impersonal Persuasion

AI-driven systems are great at capturing and analyzing large swaths of data. They are not great at using that data to make a coherent argument. The current generation of AI-powered communication tools is unable to personalize messaging based on user attitudes, beliefs, and identities.

Given the way today’s most powerful natural language systems are programmed, it’s unlikely this will change in the near future. Guessing what the next word in a given sentence will be simply won’t persuade people the way human marketers and salespeople do – regardless of how many parameters the system has in its database.

AI-powered systems like Persado focus on augmenting the work of human copywriters rather than replacing it. It empowers marketers to perform better split tests and improves audience segmentation, but it does not create new content on its own. It still requires a human operator to qualify and approve its suggestions.

What AI Is Good for in Today’s Marketing Environment

There are plenty of powerful use cases for AI in today’s marketing landscape. Artificially intelligent systems can comb through large datasets far faster and more efficiently than humans. They can identify patterns in user behaviors in mere seconds, while human operators may take hours or days.

The best AI-powered marketing tools help brands reduce the amount of time-consuming, low-value manual tasks they have to accomplish. These processes are predictable and necessary but offer very little value to end-users, like data entry.

Automating these processes with AI-powered tools enables brands to focus employee-hours on higher-impact initiatives. When marketing experts spend less time on spreadsheets and charts, they have more time to create and execute value-generating campaigns.

How To Make This Work in Your Organization

There is a place for Artificial Intelligence in today’s marketing landscape. Industry leaders are rightfully hesitant to put AI at the center of everything they do – but they are looking for the most secure opportunities to leverage emerging technologies in value-oriented ways. Learn more about automating high-volume, low-impact tasks while retaining the human touch your company’s branding needs now more than ever.

Automation is certainly powerful when used in the appropriate situations. But when it comes to protecting or evolving your brand, you should rely on industry experts who know how to couple data and experience to yield maximum results.

Put human ingenuity to work where it has the highest impact. Find out how to implement AI without losing that all-important element. Reach out to Code3 and find out how your team can supplement the power of AI effectively.

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